This year’s Children’s Sabbath theme is “How Long Must I Cry for Help? Bending the Arc toward God’s Vision of Justice for Children.” As United Methodists, our roots rest in the care for those who are vulnerable, especially children, and we participate in this weekend of advocacy for children “that aims to unite religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf.” During this important weekend we join with other denominations and religions to bring to light the plight of children in a “bigger, more powerful and more inspiring way than the efforts of any one congregation” or denomination can accomplish on its own.
There are several ways to celebrate the lives of children while drawing attention to their needs:
- Plan services, educational sessions, and activities in your local church, including a sermon delivered by someone who advocates for children.
- Join with one or more places of worship in shared services bringing congregations together.
- Work with other congregations to sponsor an interfaith service to which the entire community is invited.
- Invite local organizations serving children or working on their behalf to join in the celebration of these community-wide multifaith Children’s Sabbath observations.
The Children’s Defense Fund shares the four elements of a Children’s Sabbath Weekend:
- The service of worship or prayers, during which the divine mandate to nurture and protect children calls us to respond to the needs of children today;
- Educational programs, during which all ages learn more about the needs of children today and the social-political structures that keep children in need, explore the sacred texts, teaching, and traditions that lead us to serve and seek justice for children, and develop specific, active responses to help children;
- Activities that immediately engage participants in compassionate service to help children and in action to seek justice (such as writing letters or emails to elected officials); and
- Follow-up actions that use the inspiration, information, and motivation of the Children’s Sabbath weekend to lead individual members and the congregation as a whole into new, effective efforts to improve the lives of children in the congregation, community, and nation throughout the year.